Material Cultures Lab

The Department of Anthropology has developed a laboratory containing various secular and religious objects and artworks gathered during ethnographic fieldwork by Guérin C. Montilus, Ph.D., from Benin, Nigeria, Haiti, Cuba, and Brazil, among others.

The lab is dedicated to illustrating concepts, theories, and studies of cultural anthropology (as well as archaeology and linguistics) in the arts and social life including symbolism, myths, rituals, spirituality, magic, witchcraft, sorcery, syncretism, healing and shamanism.

The intent is to enhance the learning experience of students, promote scholarship, stimulate theoretical discussion, and provide an anthropological explanation with an ethnological foundation. Through these objects, students and scholars are exposed to fieldwork data, which embody the mental constructs and daily practices of people in various cultures. The objects convey the emic discourses of natives making the lab a living institution of communicative language within the Department of Anthropology.

Material Cultures Lab holdings include paintings, wood sculptures and furniture, brass figures, musical instruments, appliqué, weavings, copper plaques and ceremonial objects demonstrating the use of material culture in the secular and religious lives of the cultures represented.

Picture of Material Cultures Lab with artifacts

Location and access

Department of Anthropology, 3312 Faculty/Administration Building (FAB).

Access is available by appointment by contacting the anthropology office at 313-577-2935 or